Humility in Adversity
By Joey Fernandez
Social media can be cruel at times. In a time when one needs encouragement the most, he is bombarded with seemingly harmless, maybe even subtle posts from his friends who flaunt their wealth or power. When people have lost jobs, and worry about where to get their next meal, that would not be the right time to post photos of your lunch buffet. With COVID-19 test kits limited in number, it would not be appropriate to post that you tested negative when you exhibited no symptoms in the first place (unless of course, you wanted to show off how influential you are).
Just because you pay your taxes regularly, it does not give you the right to curse the government for not being a recipient of the promised financial aid.
I thank the Lord for allowing me to experience His tender mercies during this time. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned, the peace I receive, the rest that God gives, and the presence of a loving family beside me. I thank Him for the encouragement I get from His timeless Word which gives me hope as I hold on in faith that He will get my family through this ordeal. But I would like to speak to you about one virtue which we all must exhibit while we go through this: Humility.
1 Peter 5:5b-7
... and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
It is easy to see that humility is what Peter wants to teach us in this passage. The words “humility / humble” appear 3 times, along with its opposites “proud”and “exalt”.
Peter starts his letter to the saints by declaring grace. Because of God's great mercy, we have a living hope and sure salvation (1 Pet 1:3). Peter knew what grace meant. Before Christ was arrested, he boldly declared: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You"! Whatever was left of his pride was all replaced with shame and guilt when he realized he denied Christ three times. The great Peter, humbled to the point of weeping bitterly, probably thought that he was beyond forgiveness. But then, the amazing grace of God came at his lowest moment.
He continues in chapters 2 and 3 with admonitions to submit to authorities (government institutions, earthly masters, and heads of families), to godly living, and, to the exercise of humility. Many do not understand this word. It is not simply modesty or lowliness of mind. It involves much more. True humility is best described in Philippians 2:3–8 which says: “3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this
attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
To “clothe yourself with humility”literally involves putting on a white scarf or apron to distinguish slaves from freemen and show subjection to another (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This was the definition that Peter might have wanted to convey. Each one should not be ashamed to show that he is subject to God and one another.
God hates pride. Despite the dangers of being proud, many will still choose to be proud, and it is easy to understand why. Pride feels good. There is satisfaction in receiving praise. Just imagine the honor of being recognized for both big and little things: your wealth, your accomplishments, your skills, even your good looks. It promotes man’s self-importance, but it leads to his destruction. And that is why God hates pride. The Bible is filled with terrifying promises for the proud and speaks of how they will be destroyed as quickly as they appear. So, Peter instructs us to follow the opposite path: The difficult path of humility. The grace of God is the great force to combat pride.
Aside from grace, Peter also knew the meaning of the word humility. Only after putting yourself in Peter's shoes as he wept bitterly will you understand what he meant when he said: "humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…”
It is important to realize that one should not fight the hand of God as he goes through testing because it is too mighty to go up against. Only a hopeless fool would think that he can do better or accomplish things faster than God. Impatience is an indication of a lack of humility and submission, and you will only be digging a deeper grave for yourself if your trust in yourself is greater than your trust in the Lord. Accept that God is at work and is in the process of humbling you to make you whole. But be assured and comforted by the promise which is given in the end: God will lift you at His own appointed time.
Humility is a Christlike attitude which is impossible to develop on your own. But it is possible to have. It all starts with grace. Humility and submission follow closely behind it, then trust in God comes as He exalts you "at the proper time". Such was the process Peter went through, and this is the way we must all follow.
Peter knew that the saints were going through affliction. In 1 Pet 4:12-13 he said: “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”
Some of us may be going through our own ordeals. Many of us may be going through virus-related anxieties. People worry needlessly. As one of our elders had earlier mentioned: Worry is sin. Those who have lost jobs or had to put their businesses on hold worry about their families’ future. For some who have been blessed with work or businesses, their future seems a little bit more secure, but they worry about being exposed to the virus. Each one always has something to worry about. But worry shows how your heart is not strong enough to trust in God who knows all your needs. And so, Peter reminds us: do not be surprised at the ordeal as though some strange thing were happening to you. It comes upon you for testing. This was not too encouraging at all. In fact, it’s depressing! What a way to bring down the low! But then he continues with v. 7: “Cast all your anxieties upon Him for He cares for you.” Whatever it is you go through – want, loss, despair, pain, or suffering, trust in Him for He knows what we need at the exact time that we need it. Follow Peter’s effective formula: Grace, humility, submission, and trust. Then experience victory as the Lord exalts you at His appointed time.
May God’s abundant grace be upon us as we strive for Christlike humility.